Ruffed grouse are gorgeous ground birds that have eluded me since I was a child. Though I’d frequently hear them in the woods, I seldom caught more than a fleeting glimpse of them. Even the ones that visited my backyard were so skittish and quick to run off, that I had almost given up taking a photograph of one. Until this past week.
The one shown here is in its rufous phase. Its feathers seem to swirl in a beautiful palette of brown and copper tones, highlighted with white. These birds also have a gray phase.
Unlike ring-necked pheasants, larger ground birds that act like they own the neighborhood in this neck of the woods, ruffed grouse are quiet, unassuming birds with feathered legs. They keep to the woods where they blend in wonderfully with the ground cover. Apparently, they prefer woodlands with second growth, which should make my backyard an ideal habitat. I wonder if there’s a nest nearby…
Spring has finally arrived here on Flandrum Hill, and with all the activity that takes place in nature at this time of year, it’s a great time to get outdoors.
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013